Published On: Fri, Jan 26th, 2024

Residents Have Their Say On Boca’s Downtown

By Marci Shatzman

Boca Ratonians want to bring back a farmers’ market, revive the skate park, plant more shade trees, and build a pedestrian bridge over Brightline tracks on Dixie Highway into the Downtown.

People were vocal about keeping Boca resident friendly and safe. What they didn’t want was to turn Boca into a Miami or West Palm Beach with a convention center and sports arena.  

The turnout was at least three times the expected seating for 50 in the Downtown Library for the latest “Community Conversation” Thursday evening. City residents, longtime advocates and plenty of new faces wanted to have their say and did.

“You are here because we want to hear from you,” announced Community Advisory Panel’s Linda Marenus, who chairs the city volunteer board that sponsored the meeting. The panel’s Amanda Mintz also spoke to the large group.  

Residents had plenty of time to read and then paste green stickers for yes and red for no on lists wall-papered around the meeting room. Among the lists were Events & Entertainment, Recreation & Sports, Retail Commercial & Shopping, Connectivity and Mobility. That category had mostly green stickers. So did shared bike paths.

Afterward, it was easy to see at a glance what residents wanted, like having a circulator shuttle so people could park once downtown instead of driving around. An electric cart with optional advertising tried that route years ago, but it didn’t last.

Then people at a dozen tables broke into discussion groups and announced their reports. “Keep the community center; it works,” the panel’s Deborah Carman reported from her group.

Assistant City Manager Chrissy Gibson read her group’s wishes aloud: skate park, pedestrian bridge, tennis courts, bring back the green market. They were concerned about the homelessness issue.

The city has a history of asking for public feedback, formerly called charrettes, and announced there would be more. The downtown’s CRA District chairman Marc Widger, who is on city council, didn’t speak, but heard people out who wanted his ear.   

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